Apr 29, 2021
Kamala Harris Speech on First 100 Days of Biden Administration Transcript April 29
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a vaccination site in Baltimore on April 29, 2021. She gave remarks on the first 100 days of the Biden administration. Read the transcript of her speech here.
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Congressman Sarbanes: (00:00)
Which is what the Rescue Plan was designed to do. We have to be back to stay. We got to make sure that we’re going to still be strong in a year, in five years, in 10 years. And that’s what the investment behind The American Jobs Plan is all about, The American Families Plan, putting people to work and giving people a chance to make it in this country, including here, in the state of Maryland, with good healthcare, childcare, education benefits. So we all need to do our part. That’s what the President said last night. I know that’s what the Vice President emphasizes at every turn. As members of Congress, we pledge to do our part, to stand with this administration, to deliver these priorities to the President’s desk. We can get this done. We can lift up the country. As the President indicated yesterday, the future is ours if we seize it. Thank you all very much.
Speaker 1: (01:22)
Please welcome Senator Ben Cardin.
Senator Ben Cardin: (01:32)
Good afternoon. Let me join Congressman Sarbanes and Senator Van Hollen and Congressmen Mfume from our federal congressional delegation to welcome the Vice President here to Baltimore. I must tell you, it was a great site last night to see Madam Speaker and Madam Vice President on the podium as Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union Address. It was a historic moment. Vice President Harris is no stranger to Baltimore, as many of my colleagues have already pointed out. Her national campaign headquarters was located within walking distance of this stadium. She is familiar with Baltimore, and we thank her very much for her leadership. On behalf of the people of Baltimore, I want to thank the Biden Harris Administration for getting America back on track. Thank you, from the people of Baltimore, and now every person of age will be able to be vaccinated. We have the supplies. We have the distribution system in place. Every person of age can now be vaccinated. Thank you to the Biden Harris Administration. And they’re doing it in the way of equity to all communities. Schools can now open safely. Marylanders can return to school. Thank you, Vice President Harris, for your leadership. You’ve lifted Maryland children out of poverty. You’ve helped American families deal with the tragedy of COVID-19, the health and economic tragedies.
Senator Ben Cardin: (03:24)
My virtual guest last night to the State of the Union Address was [inaudible 00:03:30], who is the owner of Soviet Cafe located across street, not far from here. She would not be in business today, but for the help of the Biden Harris Administration. We’ve saved millions of small businesses because of our actions, and our economy can now recover. Thank you also to the Vice President and the Biden Harris Administration for not stopping just with the passage of The American Rescue Plan. We’re now moving forward on modernizing America’s infrastructure and investing in American families. We are now prepared to move forward.
Senator Ben Cardin: (04:15)
I have one further request. I appreciate, Governor, we want the Vice President to attend a Ravens game. I would hope that she could get the Baltimore Orioles some more wins. Maybe we can figure out a way to do that. But we do appreciate everything you’ve done. I was proud to represent the people in Maryland at the State of the Union Address last night. The Biden Harris team represents strong, compassionate, effective, value-based leadership for America and our global challenges. And it’s just the first 100 days. It’s an honor to have the Vice President in our city.
Speaker 1: (05:26)
Please welcome Senator Chris Van Hollen.
Senator Chris Van Hollen : (05:39)
Well, good afternoon, everybody. I just, a little while ago, had a chance to tour this terrific site with the Vice President. And I want to start the way she did on every stop along that tour, and that is in thanking our frontline workers, thanking the FEMA staff, University of Maryland Medical System, our military personnel, and everybody else who is part of this team to get vaccines into people’s arms, so they and everybody else can be safer. I have a personal reason to thank them too, which is this is the place where my wife, Catherine, got her vaccine shots a couple of weeks ago. I want to say to General Cowan and the National Guard a special thanks and also special salute. And Governor Hogan acknowledged her to General Burkhead who led the full US National Guard deployment to the Capitol to protect our democracy after the attack on the Capitol of January 6th, and of course, now here as part of this great contingent protecting Marylanders against the pandemic.
Senator Chris Van Hollen : (06:49)
I also want to commend mayor Scott for his leadership in a great American city during very difficult times, and to our other county executives and local leaders who are here and are providing services on the front line. I want to thank Governor Hogan and your Team Maryland group for all that you’ve done. And I’m very pleased to be here with some of my colleagues from the federal Team Maryland, Ben Cardin, who’s been just a great leader in the Senate, John Sarbanes, who you heard from, Kweisi Mfume, who is here, Dutch Ruppersberger, of course, represents the great city of Baltimore. And all of them, together with most of the Maryland delegation, joined together to vote for The American Rescue Plan. And the person, as the Mayor indicated, who cast the deciding vote that allowed that bill to move forward, The American Rescue Plan, was Vice President Kamala Harris.
Senator Chris Van Hollen : (07:53)
And like Senator Cardin, I was a proud to be in the house chamber for the joint session last evening and see Vice President Harris together with Baltimore’s daughter, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as they joined together and as President Biden put forward the plan for the Biden Harris team. And the President spelled out a great plan for how we’re going to move the country forward, but he also pointed out that we are already on the move. First of all, we now have a president and a Vice President who take science seriously and listen to our healthcare experts. Thank you, Dr. Fauci, for being a strong and steady voice throughout this pandemic. And during the tour, we saw one of the people getting their shots with their “Trust Fauci” mask on. I think you got a photo shoot with them.
Senator Chris Van Hollen : (08:53)
But thank you, Dr. Fauci, and your entire team at the National Institutes of Health and other healthcare workers around the country. Thanks to the Biden Harris team’s actions, we are now defeating this pandemic. As of yesterday, over 220 million vaccine shots had been administered around the United States and the Biden Administration has been working overtime to make sure that they’re delivered in an equitable manner, in many cases, providing vaccines directly to community health centers around the country. So after 100 days, we are exceeding expectations in terms of the numbers of shots delivered, and we’re also seeing the economic benefits resulting from The American Rescue Plan. I will not go through the details. John Sarbanes mentioned some of the Maryland specific proposals. But if you look at what’s happening nationally and you look at the news today, in addition to the fact that we’re now turning the corner on the pandemic, the figures coming in, which represents the lives of every American, show that-
Senator Chris Van Hollen : (10:03)
… which represents the lives of every American show that unemployment, new unemployment filings are down and the economy is picking up steam, thanks to the 100 day leadership of the Biden Harris team and the American Rescue Plan. So we all know we’ve got a lot of work still to do, and that work will have to happen at the federal level, the state level, the local level, but really the most important work is the work being done by the folks on the front lines right here, because we can pass big laws in Congress. We can issue orders, direct or executive orders from the White House. But in the end, in order to make it work, we need neighbors coming together. And so it’s in that spirit that I want to introduce our next speaker in the program, somebody who is a champion for Baltimore and an inspiration to us all.
Senator Chris Van Hollen : (10:59)
And that’s Miss Melissa Wesby. Melissa is a registered nurse, wife, and mother of three, who works at Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital, and who has been on the front lines, caring for our fellow Marylanders who’ve been suffering from COVID. But Melissa hasn’t just been offering medical care. She’s been offering fellowship too. Whether that be by helping patients Zoom call their families or just stopping and listening to their concerns. She goes to work every day to make a difference in the lives of her patients. And is one of the people who has been a shining light during this dark hour. So I’m so pleased if you could all join me in giving a very warm welcome to someone who’s a public servant in every sense, Ms. Melissa Wesby.
Melissa Wesby: (12:10)
Hello everyone. My name is Melissa Wesby, as mentioned. I’m a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. I moved to Baltimore City in 2007 with my husband of 13 years now, John Wesby. We are raising our three brilliant children, Olivia age 12, Mitchell age 10, Lydia eight, all here in Baltimore City. The three of them attend Patterson Park Public Charter School near our neighborhood in Patterson Park. Last night, we watched and listened to President Biden’s address as he stood in front of two history making women for the first time ever. As a parent of young kids, that moment sent a powerful message to my children and children all over the world.
Melissa Wesby: (13:11)
Much of what the president spoke of brought light to me. One of the priorities is putting cancer research in the forefront, as I am a four year breast cancer survivor, and my mother, a cancer survivor too. I am a registered nurse. I work with pulmonary and cardiac patients at Johns Hopkins Bayview. We care for patients who are currently COVID positive and who are still having symptoms of COVID thereafter. My colleagues and I have worked tirelessly y’all. It’s been a change from the norm. The effects of the virus have caused us to change our lives in several ways. We’ve had to learn to work and live our lives very differently from what we are used to, but being true to who I am and the positive person I like to be, I look through the light. And on this 100th day for our administration and focusing on progress, there is light ahead.
Melissa Wesby: (14:25)
Infection rates are trending downward. Over 200 million vaccines have been administered. Families can visit their loved ones in the family now, y’all. It’s been so hard. People can’t touch and feel their loved ones. And now we’re able to have visitors come in and just rub feet and hands. It’s so beautiful. Release checks were given to those who needed it. New jobs and businesses have been created. Schools are reopening and some restrictions are being relaxed per the CDC guidelines. Vice President Kamala Harris embodies the American dream. Raised by parents from different parts of the world. She has dedicated her life to public service. As a history making vice-president, she has worked closely with President Biden to deliver for working families these first 100 days. The Biden Harris Administration gives light and hope that better days are ahead. It is my honor to introduce Vice President Kamala Harris.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (15:55)
Thank you all. Thank you all. As Chris van Hollen was saying together with the governor and Dr. Fauci, we were walking around downstairs and meeting with all the folks, our members of the national guard, all the frontline workers. And I said, I do believe in moments of crisis, that they reveal the heroes walking among us, the angels walking among us. And I would say Melissa Wesby is one of those individuals. Thank you, Melissa, for that incredible introduction.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (16:36)
So to the governor, Larry Hogan, thank you, and Team Maryland. Mayor Brandon Scott, to General Janine Burkhead, thank you for the warm welcome and for all the work you do. And it is certainly a point of personal privilege for me as the president of the Senate to acknowledge some folks that are my friends. And I worked with them both for over the four years, I was in the Senate. And that, of course, is Senator Ben Carden and Senator Chris van Hollen. Senator Carden… I will tell you, I’ve seen them both. I just have to tell you Maryland, you got some real leaders on your hand in the United States Senate. They represent Maryland, but they are also national leaders.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (17:20)
Ben, I’ve watched him do exceptional work for Maryland’s businesses as the chair of the Senate small business committee. And of course, Chris, as a member of the appropriations committee has brought critical resources to Baltimore in terms of housing infrastructure and water infrastructure, and so much more. So it is wonderful to be with you both. I also want to thank Congressman John Sarbanes and Congressman [inaudible 00:17:45], who I’ve known for years. Thank you both for your leadership. And it is always a wonderful day to spend time with Dr. Anthony Fauci. And thank you always, Dr. Fauci.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (17:58)
So it is wonderful to be back in Baltimore. And especially on this, our 100th day of our administration, I would say today is a good day, Baltimore. 100 days ago just after President Joe Biden and I were sworn in, I stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial and I’ve talked about what I call American aspiration. American aspiration. I talked about how in America, we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. So for a minute, let’s go back to where our nation was 100 days ago.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (18:55)
About two out of 330 million Americans at that time were fully vaccinated. More than 10 million Americans were out of work. Schools were closed. Businesses were closed. And beyond the pandemic, our democracy was under assault and our Capitol had just been attacked by insurgents. All of that was going on when the president and I took our oath of office. But as daunting as these challenges were, we were not deterred and our nation was not deterred. We had a plan to get America back on track. We had faith that the American people, when given the opportunity, would come together and would rise to meet the moment. And you have, you have.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (20:03)
… and you have, you have. And because you have, American aspiration has defined his first 100 days. American aspiration is how we got to more than 200 million shots in arms in less than 100 days. In fact, just this morning, we got new data on how the economy did in the first quarter of this year and things are looking up. America is once again on the move. And that’s in big part, thanks to exactly what’s happening here in this stadium, which is this vaccination effort. And I thanked the National Guard earlier, I will thank you again. And Baltimore, Mayor, look at what you’re doing here. People can walk right into this stadium and get vaccinated. And this is happening around the country. I have visited a local pharmacy in Southeast DC, and a community health center right outside of Denver, and a vaccine distribution site at a university in Las Vegas. I’ve been to a site in Chicago run by union members and another site in Jacksonville run by military members. And America, you must know the people working to administer vaccines are heroes. And so too, just like those folks we visited with downstairs, so too are the Americans would sign up for that appointment, make the time and step up and get the shot. And if you haven’t been vaccinated yet or if you know somebody who hasn’t, please ask folks to just roll up their sleeves. It’s time for each one of us to do our part.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (22:06)
And we have also seen American aspiration in our effort to deliver relief directly to American families. The pandemic has taken a toll on families. On their physical health, their mental health, ability to pay the bills and the President and I, we knew that before we took office. So we developed a plan called the American Rescue Plan and it was designed and intended to help people out. And it was a big plan, to tackle a big crisis. And some said it was too big, but we went for it anyway. And the American people rallied around it. Across our country, Democrats and Republicans alike voiced their support. And on day 50 of our administration, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (23:06)
And as I said then, President Joe Biden, well, he had a clear vision and clear purpose. And let me tell you something, he never forgets who we are doing this for. It is for the American people. It is for the American people that we have delivered relief checks to 160 million folks. It is for the American people that we have lowered healthcare premiums. It is for the American people that we have cut taxes for families with children. And it is because of this law that we are lifting half of America’s children who are living in poverty out of poverty. Think about that. Think about that. Half of America’s children that are living in poverty will be lifted out of poverty. So that, folks, is what I call American aspiration.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (24:14)
And we have also delivered support directly to small businesses. Because of course, small businesses are part of the fabric and the culture of a community, Baltimore knows that well. Our small businesses employ about half of America’s workers. And making sure small businesses has and have access to capital is a big part of the work that I’ve been doing. I am proud to report that we have provided relief to four million small businesses in our country. Which brings me then to jobs. In 100 days, we have created more new jobs than any other administration in history. And Baltimore, we are just getting started. Right now, we have two more plans that we are working to get passed.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (25:07)
The first is the American Jobs Plan. It will be the largest job investment that our nation has made since World War II. Because the fact is, too many people, including too many people right here in Maryland are still out of work. So while we have made significant progress, on the jobs front there’s so much more to be done. We are going to put Americans to work, fixing the roads you drive on every day, getting rid of the lead pipes that poison our children and expanding broadband so that every American has access to high speed and affordable high speed internet.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (25:53)
In the 21st century where broadband is critical infrastructure. Last week I was in New Hampshire, I was visiting a site in the New Hampshire Electric Co-op. And I was there because we were remembering that in 1936, Ben Cardin and Chris, you’ll probably remember, and together with Congressman Sarbanes and Mfume, in 1936 the United States Congress said, “You know what? We got this thing called electricity, but there are folks that are being left out and that’s not going to be right, because they will be left behind.” So in 1936, there was the Rural Electrification Plan. And on that basis, our federal government invested to make sure all Americans had access to electricity.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (26:48)
Well, fast forward to the year of our Lord, 2021, we got this thing called broadband. We have this thing called the internet. And let’s think about it, over the past year alone, which really highlighted the importance of it, a lot of people, the only way that they could work if they had the ability, was to work online. Our children had to go to school online. Seniors and others, the way they could see their doctor, telemedicine, online. Small businesses, how are they going to connect with their customers? How are they going to move their product? Online. How did so many of us connect with our families? Folks otherwise we might see at a family reunion or a holiday or a birthday? Online, if we had access and if it was affordable. So too many people either, in this period of time, it has been highlighted, don’t have internet access or can not afford a broadband bill.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (27:58)
And let’s be clear, when we connect Americans to affordable and accessible broadband, we are connecting our children to education. We are connecting, our seniors to telemedicine. We are connecting families to each other and we connect Americans to economic opportunity. And at the same time, we build up our broadband infrastructure, such that we create good jobs, good union jobs. And as I have said it before, I will say it again, the best path to a good job is through a strong union. So the American Jobs Plan will put America to work and the second plan is the American Families Plan, which will make it possible for people to work. So what am I talking about? Well, the President, in his speech last night, he talked about this, this plan that will establish universal pre-K and lower the cost of childcare, making childcare affordable and accessible, which has been a priority for so many of us. Just think, nearly two million women have been forced out of the workforce in just the last year and the lack of childcare is often the reason why. I’ll tell you my personal story in this. When my mother, who raised my sister and me, Dr. Fauci knows this, I am very proud to say that my mother used to go to this place, Governor, when we were young, mommy was going all of us to this place called Bethesda. She was going to Bethesda, I learned later because a place called NIH, is in Bethesda. Because you see, my mother was a breast cancer researcher and she had two goals in her life, to raise her two daughters and end breast cancer. And so she used to go out to NIH to help do some of the work.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (30:03)
… So she used to go out to NIH to help do some of the work that happens there. And so when my mother, though, on a daily basis was at work every day, long hours, she worked on weekends. And when she was at work, and it was after school, often my sister and I, we would walk two houses down to the home of Mrs. Regina Shelton, who was a second mother to us. And she was a lifeline for our mother. And here’s the thing I know, she would talk on a daily basis about how, but for Mrs. Shelton, he could not have done the work that she did. Every working mother needs that support, every working parent needs that support.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (30:50)
And a competitive economy requires it. A competitive economy requires a skilled workforce too, which is why we will also create more opportunities for education after high school. So let’s think about that. 12 years of education is the norm, has been the norm, but in today’s world, 12 years of education is just not enough. So let’s invest in education after high school, understanding that we also must invest in opportunities for folks about which path of education after high school they want to take, that they choose to take.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (31:43)
Let’s think about what we need to do, education after high school, to invest in apprenticeships. We will give every American with this plan two years of free community college, and we will make college more affordable for millions of students, because there shouldn’t only be one educational path to success. The American jobs plan, the American families plan, this is what Americans deserve, and this is what our future depends on.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (32:16)
And we must also be clear-eyed. These last 100 days haven’t only been defined by progress. There have been too many days when we woke up to news of another mass shooting, another black or brown person shot by the Police, another act of hate against Asian Americans, another law designed to make it harder for people to vote. These are reminders that we still have so much more work to do in the fight for reasonable gun laws, in the fight for racial justice, the fight for voting rights.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (32:58)
And some days I know it feels exhausting, but we cannot give up and we will not give up, because here’s the truth. American aspiration is about the courage to see beyond crisis and to build beyond crisis. It was about our endurance. It is about our perseverance. It is about our ability to keep pushing forward. American aspiration is what drove our nation to build a railroad from coast to coast in the middle of the Civil War. It is what drove our nation to bring electricity to every household in the middle of the Great Depression. It is what drove our nation to race to the moon in the middle of the arms race. American inspiration is what will continue to drive all of us to keep reaching high, even when we know it may be difficult, especially when it is difficult.
Vice President Kamala Harris: (34:13)
I want to end with one more story. So about a month ago, I met this little girl, her name is Galya, and she’s five years old. And so I walk into the classroom and she’s there. This little one, I mean, she is really something. Okay. So I walk into the room, and she introduced me to everybody in the classroom, knew everyone, at five years old and immediately came, glued to my side the whole time I was in the classroom, introduced me to everyone in the classroom by name, including her teachers. She was self appointed to do this, by the way, it was not the plan. At one moment, I went down, I kneeled to speak to her. And I said to her, I said, “Galya, you can be anything you want to be.” And this little one looked at me in my eyes, and do you know what she said? “I want to be everything. I want to be everything.” Right?
Vice President Kamala Harris: (35:24)
So that is spirit of American aspiration. That is the spirit, which at that moment was wrapped up in the little body of a five-year old. And moving forward, that is the spirit we must summon. So thank you, Baltimore. Thank you, Maryland, for making these 100 days what they have been, as so many of you have spoken and said, where we see light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for marking these 100 days with the President and with me, and please know that the President and I are grateful for your trust and we will never ever take it for granted. May God bless you, and may God bless America. Thank you. Thank you.